A couple playing video games on a TV in a modern living room.
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There are a lot of features and factors to consider when shopping for a new TV. One you shouldn’t overlook? HDMI ports. You want as many as you can get.

Always Opt for More Ports

Although it seems like, paradoxically, the answer to how many HDMI ports you need is always “one more than you have,” there is a way to approach the question systematically. We’ve done exactly that, digging into how to determine how many HDMI ports you need on a TV.

In general, a simple “number of devices you have + one” calculation is a safe bet. But that assumes you know how many devices you’ll want to plug in down the road. Over the years, no matter what kind of TV we’ve had—be it a CRT, rear projection, or modern HDTV—we’ve always ended up wanting more video ports.

This advice, naturally, applies most strongly to the purchase of a primary TV that will be set up in your den, living room, or media room. That’s usually where the lack of ports becomes the most painful as you quickly run out of available HDMI ports plugging in gear like game consoles, Blu-ray players, streaming boxes, and such.

For smaller and lesser used TVs like, say, a small kitchen TV that will be used mostly for YouTube videos and streaming TV shows as background noise, lack of HDMI ports isn’t as pressing a concern. Whether you use the built-in smart TV functionality or one of the ports for a Chromecast, you’re unlikely to run into an HDMI port shortage.

But for any TV set doing the heavy living as the entertainment hub of your home or tasked as the display for multiple video game consoles in a game room, opt for more ports.

In fact, when comparing similar models, we’d argue the number of HDMI ports should always be the deciding tie-breaker. It’s very easy to get bogged down in the tiny details and differences between television sets, many of which you’ll never, practically speaking, notice or care about. But when it comes time to plug in that last HDMI device, and there’s no room, you’ll have a very concrete problem on your hands.

What to Do If You’re Short on HDMI Ports

We don’t want to send anybody away empty-handed—so if reading this post has you thinking about how frustrating the lack of ports on your current TV is, here’s what you can do.

You could always go all out and solve the port problem with a home theater setup. Mixing in a home theater receiver can easily boost the sad two ports on your TV up to 4-6+ while simultaneously offering a huge sound upgrade.

But that’s not a cheap solution, to be sure. You’ll need home theater speakers in addition to the receiver. Even if you buy a so-called “home theater in a box,” you’ll still be out $500-600 on the low end.

If you like your current setup and you simply need more HDMI ports because you have more game consoles or other inputs than you have HDMI ports, then a much more economical solution is to purchase a simple HDMI switch.

On the cheaper side of things, you can find basic manual HDMI switches with 2-3 ports for around $15-20. You’ll have to manually select which HDMI port every time you use it, but for lesser-used devices, perhaps that’s not a big deal.

Ponybro UHD 4K 60hz HDMI Switch

Add 5 ports with automatic switching to your current TV with this handy HDMI switch.

If you spend a little more on a larger auto-detecting HDMI switch—around $40-60—you’ll get four or more ports, the switch will auto-detect which source is on and switch to it, and they usually include a simple IR remote if you need to manually switch the HDMI port from the couch.

So if a new TV isn’t in the cards for you right now (or the one you really want is a bit light on the ports), at least you have options to squeeze in a few more devices without resorting to swapping the ports by hand.

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Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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